Function keys problem

Trying to diagnose a problem on my wife’s computer. Complication is two-fold: she and I are living in separate states (temporarily due to job change and trying to sell a house) and her computer runs Vista while I’m still using XP (which means I am unfamiliar with her interface and can’t just tell her "go to this icon and do this.)

Anyway - while fixing one problem on the phone, we discovered that she does not have to hit the Fn key on her keyboard to get the function key action on her F keys. E.g. - her wireless toggle is the function key option on the F2 key. When she holds down the Fn key and hits F2, nothing happens (this was a key point of confusion in solving her original problem.) But if she just hits the F2 key - without holding down the Fn key - the wireless toggles on and off.

So - how could this have happened? And how do I get her system back to “normal,” i.e. the function keys only work when you hold down the Fn key? Is there a simple option somewhere that is a “Fn Key Lock?”


Let me guess - Her computer is a newer system?

I’ve seen this crap on a lot of brand new laptops, and it pisses me off. I haven’t delved into it deep enough to find a solution, I would HOPE there would be a BIOS option somewhere or a configuration option somewhere to change that behavior.

Good guess - are you the House of computer ailments? ;)

Hells yeah. I should start being snarky and making my clients feel like crap, I’d become famous. :D

But anyways, I don’t have one in my possession now so there isn’t much I can do, but I’d check the docs on it and try the Dell support chat (Assuming this is one of those new Dell Studio systems). Get the service tag off the bottom of her system and just go into chat using her name and service tag.

Then make sure to tell them to file a formal complaint for setting up systems like that. Function keys should be Function keys first, not utility keys. I can’t tell you how many times clients have accidentally hit the F2 key, disabled their wireless, and then had no clue why “The Intenet stopped working!!!ONE!!”

That was exactly what happened with her. New Dell 15, internet working fine, then suddenly it stops working. She calls, we unplug/reboot the router, nope, do the same for the cable modem then the router, nope, all the lights on the cable modem look right, hmmm, reboot the router again, nope, have her plug directly into the cable modem, yep, internet is coming through, OK, it’s a router/wireless thing. After messing with her computer (trying to walk her through refreshing the wireless networks, which seems to be a different process on Vista than XP, at least from trying to talk her through it on the phone) I told her to hold down the Fn key while hitting the F2 key - she did that, no difference. I was about to give up, but asked her, when you did that, then hit it again, did you see a WiFi icon with an X or something? She said, no icon at all. I told her she just missed seeing it, do it again. We went through that a few times, she was getting irritated at me for accusing her of not seeing it, then I just took a wild hair and had her hit the F2 without the Fn key, and voila.

VERY frustrating. I’ll do the live tech chat or ask in their forums on how to fix it.

It’s actually MORE frustrating than when Microsoft decided to ship keyboards that:

A) Don’t have lights on the keyboard to indicate Capslock or Functionlock
B) Said functionlock must be pressed to make the function buttons do what they’ve done for 20+years, like if you need to get into the BIOS or select the boot menu for MICROSOFT’S OWN F*CKING OS.

I say more frustrating for the laptops because on the traditional PC keyboards, there aren’t any special functions that can utterly gimp your PC like the “disable wireless.”

There’s a special place in hell for the person who made it as simple as 1 wrong keypress to turn off your network connection.

Oh, can I play?

I can’t understand why anyone would make the lower leftmost key the FN key.

I hit control c/ control v to copy paste constantly. Not to mention, it’s the very important crouch key.

One solution is to get autohotkey. Autohotkey Special keys

It’s easy to program a very simple macros that saves you tedium.

send {F9}


This remaps capslock to my very often used F9 function.

If Winexist, Firefox


This one makes the 1 key do a control Tab if and only if in firefox.